This is my best honest attempt to defend the DI. I hope that they would agree with most or all of what I write.
First off, I think it is important to recognize that ENV is not run by scientists. John West is a political scientist, David Klinghoffer is a journalist I think, and Casey Luskin (who is no longer there) is a lawyer. I do not think that these guys are ever intentionally lying. Much more frequently they are just calling it like they see it, but they have such a different view of science than us, that it might seem like “confabulation.” I think the reality is different. They just see the world differently than us.
I think Ann Gauger fits in a different category. I think she is a genuinely honest person that is earnestly doing science as she sees fit. Moreover, she is actually a scientist, and has born MORE than her fair share of abuse for her efforts. Her, in particular, I have no interest in attacking. The only reason she was sucked into this is because she decided to dispute VJ Torley (a philosopher) on the science, and I did not want to leave VJ hanging.
One of the more revealing parts of the dialogue is how the VTG1 match to humans was handled. In Ann’s defense, the paper was not clear about the totality of data behind the pseudogene match, and it did not report the significance (which was about 10^-70). This argument started out with people arguing about “what other people said about the data,” so this was the significance of the match was initially in dispute. The data however entirely resolved that question, and Ann did eventually stop arguing that it wasn’t significant (though I think she stopped short of admitting she was wrong).
Any how, I think she was genuinely confused as to why the original authors didn’t report this significance, and said as much in her articles. The answer, I think, is that the authors of the original paper did not know there paper was going to be the subject of a debate about common descent. They just assumed it was true, and focused on the interesting science of the data. Now, we come by with our external debate, and wonder why they didn’t fully justify themselves.
Of course, that describes just about ALL of the primary scientific literature. In mainstream science, it is not even worth explaining the evidence for common descent any more, because it is so obviously true to most scientists. In the primary literature, therefore, the evidentiary case for common descent is actually understated.
Regardless, this is just another case of having wildly different views of the world, and the clash causing honest but severe misreading of the literature.
Now, why wasn’t this corrected on the ENV site?
First off, ENV has a policy of not retracting things. The best thing would be for them to publish a new article walking back mistakes. They of course did not do this.
Second, Cornelius Hunter DID in fact silently retract points that he was proven wrong on, with no explanation. That really angered me, and it is possible (likely?) that I reacted strongly to that. I perceived it as dishonesty. Perhaps I was unfair. Regardless, his whole point is that “there is absolutely no evidence for common descent” so it certainly was material to the debate why he retracted his points. Both VJ and I called him on this point:
Cornelius Hunter is honestly very hard for me to understand. My most generous reading of him is that he is honestly convinced of his position. I have my doubts, but I cannot peer into another’s heart and judge their motives. If I could, I would take back my public accusation that he was being dishonest. It certainly looked that way to me, but who knows.
Now, once again in defense of the ID movement, several prominent ID people did privately tell me that they thought the whole debate was absurd and were considering weighing in on my behalf. I emailed Behe, and he almost did. I do not think that the DI speaks on behalf of the whole ID movement, but this is supposed to be their function. It does not make a ton of sense to me.
So in the end, though I disagree with almost all the scientific claims the DI made in that chain, I do not necessarily know they are being dishonest. MOREOVER, VJ Torley is part of the ID movement too, and he did defend me and generally speaking (especially for a philosopher) did a phenomenal job representing the science.
I just wish more in the ID movement could be like Ann Gauger and VJ Torley.